Contrary to Jimmy Dugan’s famous line in the movie, A League of Their Own, there is crying in baseball. I for one am shedding tears.
It is April and there are no games. Clayton Kershaw is in his back yard tossing Nerf Balls with his kids. Mike Trout swats at house flies these days, not high fastballs. How is it that there is no baseball?
Baseball was my first love. I remember hearing the name Pee Wee Reese on TV and decided that whoever he played for, I would cheer for. Reese, of course was the Brooklyn Dodger shortstop and played alongside fellows like Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Carl Furillo and my boyhood idol, Duke Snider. As a ten year old, I remember waiting on the front porch for the paperboy to sling a copy of the Beckley Post Herald in our yard. I ripped into it, tore open the sport’s section to see if the Duke had homered. He did, often. Snider hit over 40 home runs for six successive seasons. Twice he hit four homers in a World Series. The Duke prowled center field at Ebbet’s Field and wore number 4 on his jersey – my lucky number throughout all my years.
Snider was one of many baseball immortals of the 1950’s along with Willy Mays, Mickey Mantle and the best hitter who ever lived – Ted Williams. Plus, there was Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.
Whitey Ford baffled many a batter with his wicked curve and Warren Spahn pitched complete games every four days. There was Yogi Berra and Moose Skowron, Al Kaline and Red Schoendienst, Eddie Matthews and Roberto Clemente. Who can forget Jimmy Piersall chasing down blasts to deep center in Fenway Park or Nellie Fox back handing hot grounders at Comiskey Park?
There were other greats like Ted Kluzewski, Robin Roberts, Early Wynn, Bob Feller, Jim Lemon, Johnny Antonelli and countless other “Boys of the Summer.”
They played doubleheaders on steamy August Sundays and rode trains from town to town. They played because they loved the game of baseball, and so do I.
But come tomorrow morning, there will be no box scores in the paper. There is crying when there is no baseball.